Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dino Garr On The Rye School Bond: How Good Do You Want To Be?

I have been reflecting on the many letters to the editor and conversations among Rye residents expressing their thoughts, opinions and reasons for voting either “Yes” or “No” on the School Bond. It is a challenge we all must accept as Rye Garnets. Having been a Rye resident, student, teacher and coach for 67 years, I’d like to take a moment and share my thoughts with the community and town I love.

In my roles as an educator and coach for over 40 years, I have had many opportunities to visit other communities throughout Westchester and Rockland counties and to see the investments made by those communities for the benefit of current students and future generations of leaders. I can say without reservation that, in comparison to other communities, Rye’s commitment to the value and importance of education has been on a slow and steady decline. Most of us have probably heard the saying, “Keep ‘Rye’ Rye.” What does this really mean? Throughout my teaching and coaching careers, I have always maintained and known that if you are content with staying in the same spot and not moving forward, others will pass you by. Neighboring school districts are passing Rye by – in the classroom, buildings and athletic fields.

The Bond vote represents a philosophical position that every Rye resident has to take, just as it did when my mother chose to buy a home in Rye in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. As an Italian immigrant, she worked and saved for many years to be able to make that choice. Until her death fifty years later, she paid her school and property taxes as part of her belief in the choice she made and in the value of the Rye community. And trust me, with her Depression-era mentality, my mother had a keen sense of saving and being frugal – a trait she passed on to me.

The School Bond vote is a time for action – making a choice on what and how we will invest to insure that current and future educational needs are not only met but that the high standards we had always been known for are upheld and not diminished. It is also a time for taking a philosophical position as to our belief in the value and importance of education in our community. I cannot ever remember any parent or community member saying they want average or less for their sons and daughters when it comes to learning, opportunities and life experiences. No resident wants less than the best service. That’s why we choose to live in Rye. We should always strive to be the model for other communities to emulate. That is what is meant by the saying, “Keep ‘Rye’ Rye.” Something I have always taken “Garnet Pride” in believing, both in my actions and in voting, is that we should always strive to be the best. For me, voting “Yes” is an expression of that belief – a vote to be the best, now and in the future. I do not know any more valuable way to insure success, not only for our students but for our home values and growth. Just as my mother did back in the 1930s, I am choosing to invest in Rye. Now, it is my turn to carry on her belief in the Rye community.

Finally, we elect board members and administrators to provide informed guidance on what is the right fiscal policy – to make important decisions on what is the best way to provide for the continued growth of our schools. “Striving for Perfection,” “Focusing on Excellence” – these are what Rye residents demand from the Board of Education, administrators, teachers, coaches and students. Shouldn’t we demand the same from ourselves? “Yes” – we are all Garnets.

Dino Garr